Listed below are recent posts across all of CalRecyle's blogs.

  • What's Even Better Than Recycling? Refurbishing

    We all know the phrase “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,” but we sometimes forget those three Rs are listed by priority. Used electronics are problematic and costly to manage and recycle, so it’s critical to consider more sustainable options. Here are a few.

    Donate

    Donate your old electronics to sources that will refurbish them or use them for parts. More and more E-waste recyclers are now taking part in the reuse movement and will accept items that can be refurbished or used for parts. ReUseIt Drop Box accepts re-useable laptops: Call (877) 738-7348, or visit www.earth911.org and search by county name to see regional choices. Also check out the CalRecycle search engine to find local e-waste recyclers.

    Buy Refurbished

    Help minimize the environmental impact of e-waste by purchasing refurbished computers.

    Refurbished products include electronics that were returned to a manufacturer or vendor for various reasons. Refurbished products are tested for functionality and defects before they are sold, and many come with warranties. Electronics in this group are often brand-new and were simply store returns that the customer decided they just didn’t want. Since the package was opened it has to be sold as “refurbished.” So in effect, you are purchasing a new product.

    Other refurbished electronics may be older and rebuilt. Searching online provides valuable customer reviews of products and vendors and help determine how well the vendor stands behind their products through money-back guarantees and warranties.  More electronics recyclers and some companies are expanding into the refurbished electronics market. Refurbished electronics can be purchased through any number of sources, both online and in some electronics stores, or even from the manufacturers directly.

    I purchased a refurbished laptop six years ago that came with a 90-day warranty. I installed larger memory chips, also available online. It still works great, and I saved a lot of money!

    Fix Them Yourself

    There is a growing movement to fix electronics yourself. Many communities hold fix-it clinics. They are a lot of fun, and they provide an opportunity for tech-minded folks to volunteer time and support the community and learn along the way. A leader in the self-repair arena is IFIXIT, “the free repair guide for everything, written by everyone.” It contains instructions, tools, tips, and much more on how to fix almost any electronic device.

    Any of these choices will help save valuable resources and prevent the landfilling of used electronics that can be refurbished instead. Buying refurbished also makes use of the existing products and prevents the negative environmental impacts created by the manufacture of new components and devices. Even if a device can’t be fully refurbished, some of the components could be harvested for reuse in other devices.

    Remember: refurbish over recycle—it’s the higher use of the planet’s resources!

    Posted on In the Loop by Jim Madden, CalRecycle on May 13, 2019

  • Calculating and Measuring Recycling and Disposal in California

    If you’ve ever wondered how CalRecycle measures and calculates recycling in the state, this is the article for you.

    CalRecycle employs several methods to count disposal and recycling rates for various material types. To determine a true recycling rate, you need to have a numerator (what is recycled) and a denominator (what is generated). Material types with a short life span, like single-use beverage containers, are tracked more easily than other materials that have a longer life, such as TVs and computer monitors.     

    For the California Beverage Container Recycling Program, we calculate the recycling rate by counting the number of containers redeemed and dividing it by the number of containers sold within a year. This information is calculated and reported every six months. In 2017, the overall recycling rate for CRV materials was 75 percent. You can read about individual material types and their recycling rates on this fact sheet as well.

    For some material types, like electronics, it is harder to calculate an accurate recycling rate for two reasons. First, given the typical lifespan of a TV, determining an accurate time frame within which to measure is difficult. Additionally, California’s Covered Electronic Waste Recycling Program does not cover all electronics, just those with a video display screens larger than four inches diagonal. While the Covered Electronic Waste program does track payment claims to recyclers for some materials, California does not track sales for all electronics or the total generation of e-waste, thus making it difficult to quantify an electronics recycling rate. CalRecycle addresses the limitations of the current CEW program and tracking in a policy paper titled Future of Electronic Waste Management in California.

    Some products are managed by an extended producer responsibility program, also known as product stewardship, like mattresses, carpet, and paint. Soon pharmaceutical drugs and sharps (like needles) will also be managed by a stewardship program. Each of these programs are established by law and each program has different goals and metrics that measure the product stewardship program’s success. To learn more, visit our webpage on extended producer responsibility.

    For a big-picture look at recycling in California, the 2017 State of Disposal and Recycling report offers details on the overall recycling rate, which is calculated by subtracting the amount of overall landfill disposal from the amount of waste generated in the state. In 2017, overall disposal increased for the fifth year in a row to 44.4 million tons. By subtracting overall disposal from the 77.2 million tons of generation, CalRecycle estimates that Californians recycled, composted, and source-reduced almost 32.8 million tons. This corresponds to a recycling rate of 42 percent, which has continued to decline since the peak of 50 percent in 2014.

    The 2014 Disposal-Facility-Based Characterization of Solid Waste in California report offers a much more detailed analysis of the composition of California’s disposed waste stream. Although it isn’t a calculation of what is recycled, it does highlight what is still available to be recycled. Figure 5 on page 30 illustrates the overall waste stream composition. By far, California’s largest waste stream is organic material. Food waste alone is the single largest stream at 16 percent (see the Key Findings section on page 9). California is tackling organics recycling and edible food recovery with Mandatory Commercial Organics Recycling and statewide residential and commercial organics diversion and recycling (which goes into effect in 2022).

    AB 901 (Gordon, Chapter 746, statutes of 2015) changes how organics, recyclable material, and solid waste are reported to CalRecycle. This new reporting system will provide CalRecycle with much more information about materials being recycled. Disposal, recycling, and compost facilities, as well as exporters, brokers, and transporters of recyclables or compost, will be required to submit information directly to CalRecycle on the types, quantities, and destinations of materials that are disposed of, sold, or transferred inside or outside of the state.

    The data acquired by the new AB 901 regulations will inform CalRecycle’s understanding of material flows within the state’s recycling infrastructure; allow CalRecycle to better estimate total recycling and composting; and assist CalRecycle to track progress toward several state goals and programs, including the 75 percent recycling goal, mandatory commercial recycling, and organics diversion programs.

    Posted on In the Loop by Christina Files on Apr 29, 2019

  • CalEPA's Big Earth Day Celebration

    We've been celebrating Earth Day for weeks now here at CalRecycle, along with our CalEPA partner groups. We all got together and held our big annual celebration yesterday at CalEPA's downtown Sacramento headquarters. We even had a few special guests, like Gov. Gavin Newsom. Little did he know he'd have to share the spotlight with Recycle Rex, the Bag Monster, Queen Green, and a few other stately dignitaries. Take a look at the fun we had! 

     

    Newsom at the CalEPA Earth Day event
    Posted on In the Loop by Syd Fong, TC Clark on Apr 25, 2019